Growing up, my cousin had this thing where no one was allowed to like anything he liked or he accused you of copying him, and sometimes he would punch you. He loved Wolverine, so I said whatever. I didn’t read much Wolverine. There was a lot of other good, if not better stuff out there. Like Elektra: Assassin.
Now that we’re older, I’m much bigger than he is. There will be no punching. So, I’ve started reading some Wolverine comics. Like I said in my Just A Pilgrim post, I like post-apocalyptic stories, and Old Man Logan is kind of a post-apocalyptic Marvel universe. On the “Night the Heroes Fell,” evil won, the good guys disappeared, and the villains have been running things ever since.
The bad guys have split up the U.S. into fiefdoms, extorting those living on their land. The story starts with a pacifist Wolverine living on a ranch in the Sacramento desert with his wife and two kids. He’s late on his rent to the Banners, the grandkids of Bruce Banner. They are a nasty bunch. Hawkeye proposes a delivery job (read illegal smuggling) across the country that would raise enough money to pay the rent. It has a Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid feel to it. You can see where this is going.
This is a fun road-trip comic with a pretty cool concept. The old villains (or their descendants) and some of the heroes pop up in surprising ways. There are several rabbit trails and plot twists on the journey. Although the ending isn’t necessarily a surprise, the details leading up to it are certainly entertaining. Check out Old Man Logan here.
I have always been a sucker for post-apocalyptic stories, and Just a Pilgrim by Garth Ennis fits that bill. It was originally released as a five-issue miniseries by Black Bull in 2001, but you can get the complete trade paperback now. Ennis, of Preacher and Punisher fame, combines a bunch of off-kilter ideas and character traits in this story, which makes the comic interesting, but strangely enough, also keeps it from being anything other than an amusing oddity.
The story takes place after a solar event called “the burn” scorches the Earth, destroys all plant life, and evaporates all the water. Apparently, the radiation also created some monsters. The setting is a quirky mix of an Eastwood spaghetti western and The Road Warrior. Pilgrim is Eastwood, kinda.
We are never given his name, other than Pilgrim. He’s an anti-hero that the reader can never quite be sure about, especially at the end. In typical Ennis fashion, Pilgrim is a religious fundamentalist with a wicked past and a penchant for grotesque violence, while quoting scripture. He assists a group of people traveling through the wasteland of the Atlantic seabed trying to find a rumored outpost where people can live in relative safety. On the way, a band of barbarians, with a leader who is the stereotypical pirate, becomes determined to kill, rape, and pillage the group. A young boy with the travelling group, Billy Shepherd, documents the trip in his diary. It’s high adventure on the dried up seas.
Some of the details just feel like they were meant to be shocking for the sake of being shocking. Pilgrim’s character is interesting. Is he a hero? An anti-hero? A villain? But the religious twist just feels like Ennis is taking unfair jabs at people of faith. Overall, Just a Pilgrim is a quick, easy read with post-apocalyptic flair and adventure, but there’s not much weight to it.